WIP Wednesday: Show-business!

Nothing exciting on my WIP table right now, I’m afraid, but since this post has been a while in the writing, maybe this counts.

A few weeks ago, I posted this picture of the lovely yarn I’d just received:

Trust me, it felt as gorgeous as it looks. The parcel was from Sari Silk, and the yarns are Kohinoor (the blue/yellow) and Aleena (green). If you’re intrigued, you can see them for yourself at the Stitch and Craft show in London which starts tomorrow, and where Nikki will be showing them off, along with more yarns and the patterns I designed with them. Needless to say, the yarns are very, very different from each other.

Kohinoor is the show-off, the star of the show. It’s made from the weft of sari silk, and comes in the most amazing colours, as well as a variety of weights. Some of it is thick, shiny and lustrous and in the most eye-popping of solid colours. Other skeins are lighter, more flexible and spun from 2 distinct threads. When you buy them, you can specify the kind of thing you want, so that your finished item will have a consistent look.

Although it’s not the easiest yarn I’ve ever worked with, it was definitely one of the most interesting. Fibreholics will often talk about waiting for the yarn to tell them what it wants to be, and how a skein can lurk in the bottom of a stash for years before it finally reveals its destiny. Yes, that sounds slightly mad, but I believe strongly in that instinct, the feel of the yarn in your hands guiding you to the fabric that will suit it best. I picked up Kohinoor with a fairly strong impression of what I wanted, and it thwarted me at every turn. One stitch pattern after another just fell flat, until I gave in and made it what it wanted to be – a simple, gorgeous, shining fabric. There’s nothing fancy about the stitch pattern, but that’s the point. Nothing can compete with the colours and texture of the yarn, and it won’t let them try. It’s all very well being clever, but sometimes the wisest thing to do is just let things be what they need to be and leave it at that. And when you do that, the yarn absolutely sings.

After my tussle with Kohinoor (Laura-0; Kohinoor-1), Aleena was a very different prospect. It’s a very smooth 4ply, at the heavier end of that weight. It’s not DK by any means, but the silk gives the yarn a real body so that it’s thicker than the wool 4plys I’ve worked with. And it works like a dream. It’s smooth and easy, and although the skeins I had were variegated, I got the feeling that it would take any stitch pattern I asked it to, and do it beautifully. I can never get over the shine you get from silk yarns. Until recently, I’d only worked with silk mixes and had loved them. Working with pure silk was a huge step up and the finished objects reflect the light incredibly well. I already had a pattern in mind when I picked up the skeins of Aleena, and I’m chuffed to bits with how the final thing came out.

Incidentally, anyone who’s thinking that silks (and cottons, if it comes to it) can’t give you stretchy fabric in crochet, think again. Post stitches and stitching through one loop rather than both can give your fabric all the stretch it needs. I mean, it’s not lycra, but it makes a great hat that clings to your head in the wind!

If I’ve whetted your appetite, check out the Sari Silk website. The yarns are remarkably reasonably priced considering this is silk, and they’re awesome to work with. Despite what I said above, silk is different to other yarns, and can be more challenging if you’re not used to it. The yarn itself doesn’t have much give, although you can make your fabric flexible, so you might need to think about your tension, and I know I had to keep reminding myself to relax while I was working. Silk doesn’t really have much ‘memory’ so you can block it, but I didn’t really find it necessary – it also doesn’t have the tendency to spring closed the way wool does, and you’ll get beautiful drape from it.

I’ll post more about the patterns after the show and let you know where you can get hold of them. And if you do manage to get to the show, you’ll see them first!

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